The Vision of Sir Percevale's Sister - Sigismund Goetze
Streamed through my cell a cold and silver beam,
And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail,
Rose-red with beatings in it, as if alive
And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail,
Rose-red with beatings in it, as if alive
In Arthurian Legend, Dindrane (Welsh: Danbrann; also named Dindraine, Heliabel, Amide, or Agrestizia, depending on the sources) is the sister (sometimes the half-sister) of Percival. Though she is frequently not given a name, Percival's sister is a major character in many of the Holy Grail stories and is sometimes claimed as the "Grail heroine".
Dindrane first meets her brother after his return to his mother's castle, where Dindrane explains to him about his mother's death after his departure. In some sources he leaves Dindrane in the care of their hermit uncle; in others he leaves her behind in the Castle of Maidens. She later meets up with Galahad, Bors, and Percival, telling them who she is (she does not mention her name prior to that). She proceeded to inform them about the Sword of the Strange Belt, the magical ship, and the Tree of Life and other aspects of her destiny.
The travellers boarded the ship, intent to complete the task of finding the Holy Grail. After leaving the ship, they encounter a castle with a leprous mistress. Dindrane decides to give her own blood to the lady in order to heal the lady's leprosy, and dies in doing so. She left directions that her body was to be set adrift in a boat (without a crew) to float to the holy city of Sarras. Lancelot finds the ship that carried her corpse and Dindrane is buried in Palais Esperitel. Galahad, along with Bors, later find the vessel containing her body when they land on the port of Sarras (after which they proceed to find the Grail).
According to the Grail Legends (Galahad Tradition):
Galahad journeyed throughout the kingdom of Logres (Britain). He helped one of the sides in a tournament. Gawain and Hector recognised that Galahad fought on the other side. They refused to face Galahad. However, Galahad never recognised Gawain and Hector. Suddenly, Galahad charged before them. With a mighty blow from his red sword, Galahad unhorsed Gawain. Galahad had unwittingly given Gawain a serious wound to the head. Lancelot's prediction that Gawain would receive a terrible wound from the sword that he tried to draw from the stone before the quest began.
When Galahad arrived at a hermitage, a maiden came to him, asking him to follow her. She brought Galahad to the shore where he met two knights. Perceval and Bors warmly greeted Galahad.
A mysterious ship arrived, without a single crew-member aboard. There was inscription written on the side of the ship, stating that no man without strong faith in God and Jesus would be able to board the ship.
The maiden told Perceval that she was her sister, the daughter of King Pellehen (Pellinore). Though, her name is not given in this story, she was generally known as Dindraine or Dindrane in some versions. His sister told him that she feared for his life, if Perceval's faith in God was weak. But Perveval told her that his faith was strong and boarded the ship with his other companions.
Within the ship they found a large beautiful bed, that was surrounded by three wooden posts.
On the bed was a strange sword, with handbreadth of blade drawn from the scabbard. The sword had inscriptions on the scabbard, hilt and blade, which were written in the form of prophecies.
The maiden knew the history of the sword, and the prophecies that had been fulfilled concerning the sword. One of the histories is how the Dolorous Stroke that King Varlan had used the sword against King Lambor, grandfather of King Pelles. Valan had found this sword aboard the ship. When Varlan killed Lambor with this sword, he had caused the kingdom of the Grail King to become the Waste Land.
Some of the prophecies concerning the swords had already being fulfilled. Only a couple of prophecies were to be fulfilled that day.
The first prophecy was that only one knight could grip the sword properly. Of the three Grail knights, only Galahad was able to encircle the hilt with his hand.
The second prophecy says that a maiden of royal birth and a virgin, must replace the existing belt with a new belt, before Galahad can wear the sword at his side.
Perceval's sister replaced the hemp sword-belt, with the belt that she made from the threads of fine gold, silk and her own golden hair, studded with precious stone. Galahad took the sword, unsheathed the blade and admired the fine craftsmanship, before returning the sword to the scabbard.
The Grail maiden told the heroes that the sword was called the Sword of the Strange Belt or Sword of the Strange Straps, while the scabbard was called the Memory of Blood.
Galahad and his companions left the ship, and travelled until they came upon a castle, where the knights from the castle attacked them. The people of the castle practised the custom extracting a dishful of virgin blood of captured maiden. It had being foretold that only the virgin blood of a maiden of royal family could heal the lady of the castle from leprosy.
Galahad and his companions easily defeated the knights by evening, defending Perceval's sister. But when Perceval's sister heard why the custom was practised, she willingly gave them the dishful of her virgin blood. However, doing so would bring about the maiden's death.
Dying, Perceval's sister asked her brother and her other companions not to bury her here. She instructed them to place her body in a boat, allowing the boat to set adrift. She knew that they would later find her body in Sarras. She asked them to bury her body in Sarras, because she knew that this was the city that Galahad and her brother will be buried beside her.
Perceval's sister soon died. The lady of the castle was bathed in the virgin blood, and was miraculously healed. Galahad and his companions immediately set about doing her instruction. They placed her body in a boat and set it adrift.
The story of the self-sacrifice of Percival's sister is surely one of the most gracious and beautiful of all those incident to the search for the Grail and it was evidently the thought of that this pure-hearted maid had a place of honorable distinction with the three most ardent searchers for the Holy Grail.
The sister of Perceval. Whereas Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles (Fisher King) and mother of Galahad (in the Vulgate Cycle), was the Grail Bearer, it is Perceval's sister who was the Grail heroine.
Often in the Grail romances, Perceval's sister doesn't appear to have any name, nor does she appear in every tale with her brother. Her name could be Dindraine or Dindrane can be found in Le Haut Livre du Graal also known as Perlesvaus (c. 1210). In the Italian romance, Tavola ritonda, her name was Agrestizia.
In the beginning of pre-cycle Prose Lancelot (non-Vulgate, c. 1220), she was possibly named Heliabel, where her beauty was compared to Guinevere; Heliabel surpassed Guinevere. In this romance, Perceval was still identified as the Grail hero.
(This identity of Heliabel with Perceval is found in the notes of Lancelot of the Lake, translated by Corin Corley. This is mostly likely an error, because as Helizabel and Amite (the former being her real name) in the Vulgate version of the Prose Lancelot, or as Elaine in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (1469), she was the daughter of Fisher King Pelles and the mother of Galahad by Lancelot. See Elaine. Or maybe, Dindrane and Helizabel (Amite) were original the same woman, where she was linked with Perceval. But, by the time of Vulgate Cycle, she became two separate person: one became the sister of Perceval and the other became the mother of Galahad.)
However, in Suite du Merlin (Post-Vulgate) and in Malory's Morte d'Arthur, there is another Elaine or Heliabel, who was the daughter of Pellinore and the Lady of Rule. She would probably be a half-sister of Perceval and this sister had died long before the Grail began. This Elaine had killed herself in grief over lover death.
Since there are confusion over her name, she shall be called Dindraine, mostly for the sake of convenience, rather than always call her "Perceval's sister" all the time.
Dindraine did not appeared in Chretien de Troyes' Conte du Graal. Perveval's sister had first appeared in the Second Grail Continuation, which is often called Wauchier de Denain Continuation or just Perceval's Continuation, c. 1190. Perceval met her when he returned to his mother's castle and found her there. She informed Perceval how their mother die when he left. After this, Perceval continued on the quest, leaving his sister with their hermit uncle that he had met in the Conte du Graal.
In the Gerbert de Montreuil Continuation (which follows on the Second Continuation), Perceval returned to his uncle, taking his sister to the Castle of Maidens, leaving her behind.
In Queste del Saint Graal (Vulgate Cycle), she met the three Grail knights: Galahad, Bors and her brother Perceval. Though she told Perceval that she was his sister, she had never given them her name. She was the heroine who informed Galahad, Perceval and Bors about the origin of Sword of the Strange Belt, the magical ship and the Tree of Life. Dindraine could board the ship because she was an innocent virgin. She had made the sword-belt for Galahad with her own hairs and the strands of gold.
Though, she seemed to have never met Pelles the Fisher King nor Elaine, Galahad's mother, Perceval's sister seemed to know more about the history of their family better than Galahad. She seemed to know the outcome of quest and her own destiny.
When they left the ship, she and her companions encountered a castle with strange custom. Each virgin maiden travelled through the land must fill a dish with her blood. The people of the castle had wished to heal their Countess of leposy. Her brother and his companions would have defend her, but Perceval's sister agreed to the condition impose on them. Her life was sacrificed in ordered to save the Countess, thereby ending the horrible custom. Perceval and his friends placed her body in a boat and let it drift.
By the time, Galahad and his companions reached the Holy City of Sarras with grail, her body arrived. They buried her body in the city as she had foretold. Two years later, Galahad died after the mystery of Grail was revealed to him. Galahad was buried with her. Perceval became a hermit and died a year after Galahad. Bors had Perceval buried with his sister and Galahad, before he returned to Arthur in Logre (Britain), with the news of the end of the Quest.
In Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the story followed along the same line as that of Queste del Saint Graal, where she met her brother and his companions on the ship and her death by giving blood to cure the Countess.